After a difficult few weeks, the controversial England star, now 30, is ready for his’second debut’ for Leeds.
Zak Hardaker insists he didn’t do anything wrong at Wigan and is ready to make the most of his latest second chance.
The England international player, aged 30, will make his debut ‘second’After a difficult few weeks, Leeds made its debut at Salford on Sunday. Wigan removed Hardaker from their team after he tested positive to cocaine for 14 months. “failing to meet standards off the field.”He resigned with Rhinos just over two weeks ago. In 2015, he won the Treble. However, the day before, he suffered a seizure while walking with his son Abel.
Former Man of Steel Hardaker was assisted by an off-duty paramedic “it was scary and I’m so thankful”- and is now ready for action. On Wigan’s parting shot, he said: “I was a bit wary about how they worded it because it could come across like I’ve done something bad when I really haven’t.
“I’ve not done too much at Wigan – I’ve not done anything wrong. I could go down the rabbit hole of what’s really all happened, but I asked for a release last year. I was living in Wigan on my own and my young family was in Yorkshire, I was playing on the wing… there’s a lot of factors that go into me wanting to leave Wigan. I’m just really fortunate to be at a club like Leeds.”
Hardaker was born in Pontefract and insists that he felt the need for him to leave Warriors. Hardaker had been with Warriors since 2019 and was still under contract until the end. His partner is expecting their second child and the ex-Castleford full-back said: “Home can be wherever your family is really.
“My partner and my little boy did live in Wigan for a little bit and we were OK. But it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to end up; we have been living at my mum’s house for the last four, five months of last year. The conversation revealed that we would need to move back. It was too difficult to pick up and return to Wigan for one year.
“I was looking at moving back to Yorkshire at the end of this year anyway. She was comfortable with all the family members bobbing round the house. My job was in Wigan so it was a bit tougher for me. My family is really happy back home. I’ve been home for a few weeks and I’m really happy.
“Just to see my boy every morning and every night. That’s all I’ve wanted for the last few months. I am really happy with that. It helps me come to training with a smile on my face and hopefully that can impact me on the pitch as well.”
After his departure from Australia, Rohan Smith is Rohan Smith’s first match in charge of Rhinos. The player was asked if they had discussed where Hardaker would play for Leeds. Leeds are trying to pull away from the bottom of the table. “He has not really said. He knows the positions I can play and we have had conversations.
“I am willing to play any position at the moment as long as it’s possible to get up, move and run. I’ve told him the two positions I’d rather play, centre and full-back. He knows this. For the next few months, the squad looks great. It’s about me playing as best I can in whatever position I am put in, put my best foot forward and have those conversations with Rohan when I need them. I want to play the best I can, score two points, and work my way up the ladder.”
On the seizure, which happened near his home, Hardaker was asked if it could have been fatal.
He said: “I’ve not a clue. I really don’t know. According to doctors, the seizure or fit is likely due to me falling. If I’d landed on grass would it be different? I don’t know. Maybe.
“I didn’t feel any funniness before I set off walking. I’d just come back from training. I felt really happy, I was buzzing. For something like that to happen when I felt at my best is really scary. I was fortunate for it to happen about two minutes away from my house but fortunately even more to have a paramedic come out and look after me. She is called Rosie. I have been speaking to her since. She is a lovely woman.”